If I Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain

[cross-posted at POT]

Do I plan to vote in the upcoming (November 2020) election? If so, for whom, and why? Or if not, then why not? If these questions have been keeping you anxiously awake at night, answers are gloriously at hand!

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20 Responses to If I Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain

  1. 1 October 24, 2020 at 2:20 am #

    this person speaks as if fascism hasn’t been standard for many many many decades now
    a life time of work , and this is the result


    this is what happens when you only read academic literature

    • Roderick October 24, 2020 at 2:08 pm #

      Duh, “this person” has been saying for decades that the u.s. system is essentially fascist at its core, as you’d know if you were at all familiar with my “life time of work.” But there’s a difference between being essentially fascist at the core and being openly and being wholeheartedly fascist with all the moderating aspects being stripped away.

      • P. October 25, 2020 at 9:37 pm #

        How is Trump “openly and wholehartedly fascist without all the moderating aspects”? I’m curious.

        For example, when antifa and BLM are destroying private property, setting businesses on fire, and beating innocent people, sometimes even killing innocents, is Trump fascist for denouncing that and trying to put an end to it?

        Sure, there might be SOME positive aspects to those movements. And some that are part of those movements might not engage in those violent acts. But it’s clear that those violent acts ARE a core aspect of those movements, and the only candidate denouncing them is Trump.

        In fact, antifa and BLM seem quite fascist.

        • Rad Geek October 26, 2020 at 10:39 am #

          (1) How is Trump “openly and wholehartedly fascist without all the moderating aspects”? I’m curious.

          (2) For example, when antifa and BLM are destroying private property, setting businesses on fire, and beating innocent people, sometimes even killing innocents, […]

          P., I think that you are flat wrong about the “core aspects” of BLM protests and vigilante antifa groups. We can talk about that in a bit if you want, but the topic that you led off with here was, supposedly, whether or not Trump (or movements of people rallying around or encouraged by Trump, which may be a different topic) are or are not themselves “openly and wholeheartedly fascist.” Which seems like a completely different topic from the topic that you talk about in the three paragraphs following (2).

          Suppose, for the sake of argument, that BLM protests and vigilante antifa groups could be well and accurately described as “quite fascist.” (This is not my view, but, let’s pretend.) If so, does that make Trump count as less “openly and wholeheartedly fascist”? Do you think that fascists never denounce or fight with other fascists, or take on other fascists as their political enemies? If so, then I think you are wrong about that. (In fact this happened all the time during the founding days of fascist movements, under the Third Reich, it happens all the time in movement beefs among contemporary Neo-Nazis and white supremacists). Fascists hate and attack a whole lot of people, and some of the people that they hate and attack have often been other fascists.

          As far as I know there just isn’t any known Law of the Conservation of Fascism, such that if one side of a vehement social or political controversy gets more openly or wholeheartedly fascist, the other side must somehow be correspondingly less openly or wholeheartedly fascist. Nor is there any Third Law of Antagonistic Political Movement to require that if a person’s political enemies have an awful set of political principles or movement methods, then that person on the other side must be moving according to equal but opposite principles or methods. It just doesn’t work like that. So what do any of these remarks about “antifa and BLM” — whether or not they are accurate representations of the state of affairs, and whether Trump is correct or incorrect (or half-right or oversimplifying or bullshitting or just really kind of zany) in his remarks about those other folks — have to do with whether he himself is or isn’t accurately described as “openly and wholeheartedly fascist” etc. etc.? Or was that just an abrupt change in subject from what you started out saying you were going to talk about?

        • P. October 27, 2020 at 11:57 pm #

          Hi, RadGeek. I agree that Trump is a fascist. I think every US president since at least franklin roosevelt could probably be aptly characterized as fascistic. In fact, I think the whole western world bought in fascism, even if not calling it by that name.

          I thought the whole point about “openly and wholeheartedly” was introducing a comparison with other examples of fascists that exist(ed) in the US. In comparison, I think trump is actually LESS fascistic than, for example, obama, who was much more of a warmonger than he is.

          In terms of the current political landscape, I perceive Trump and his supporters as being LESS fascistic than BLM\antifa.

          For example, the degree to which Trump is supported by white supremacists (violent or not), or to which he accepts their support, is ridiculously overstated. He has actually been denouncing them since the beginning, even though the media seems to pretend he has never said anything about it.

          First debate with Biden being a case in point, where people seemed to hallucinate he was dogwhistling instead of agreeing to denounce them per request of the moderator.

          In comparison, BLM\antifa have been doing incredibly violent acts with a very dangerous racial and classist rhetoric and with full support from the very same people that call Trump a fascist. They seem inches away from becoming a paramilitary organization.

          Even if Trump might not be less fascistic than his opponents, I definitely think he’s at least less dangerous. White supremacy is an almost completely discredited idea in the western world, and correctly perceived as dangerous. White people marching in the name of racial purity and committing violent acts would correctly sound all sorts of alarms and would correctly be confronted and put to a stop by virtually all of society’s institutions.

          The authoritarian socialist ideals (which in practice I see as fascistic) that antifa and BLM march in the name of, by comparison, sound the alarms only to HALF (probably even less than that. 30% if we’re lucky) of society. In fact, they are actually PRAISED by the other half. Clearly, if there is a dangerous group here, it’s the one that will have the support of a large part of society.

        • Roderick October 28, 2020 at 12:39 am #

          Well, needless to say, I *don’t* see Antifa or BLM as “quite fascist” or more dangerous than white supremacists. I don’t always agree with the tactics of everyone involved in those movements, but I find their values far more congenial than the WS, their violence has been greatly overstated by the media, and in areas where WS have ruled the streets, Antifa in particular has often been the only source of defense and protection for people targeted by WS. Plus BLM has made defunding the police part of the national conversation, which is an amazing and meritorious contribution.

          For a good, nuanced discussion of the merits and demerits of Antifa, see:


        • Brandon October 28, 2020 at 12:54 pm #

          I just don’t understand how the violent felons that have to be pulled out of bad neighbourhoods can be warehoused if there are no police to collect evidence against them. The prosecutors wouldn’t have much to bring a case.

        • P. October 28, 2020 at 12:22 pm #

          White supremacists would probably be more dangerous if there was a significant number of them, sure. What actually seems to happen, though, is that antifa\blm and the media, etc. usually conflate trump supporters/right-wingers (even moderate liberals!) with white supremacists.

          Kyle rittenhouse of “kenosa shooting” fame being a case in point. The kid literally only acted in self-defense, with loads of videos proving it, but he still gets called a violent white supremacist.

          Although I do agree with the anarchist idea of eventually abolishing the police, the alternative these antifa\BLM want to put in place is even worse! “CHAZ” being a clear example of that. There was literally a mafia-like armed organization extorting business and homeowners and far more chaotic and violent than police generally is.

          Has the violence been overstated by the media? Not by the mainstream media, which goes by the motto of “mostly peaceful protesters” even when a building is on fire in the very same context. Since I have seen loads of videos of antifa ganging up on innocent people (usually business owners) and literally kicking them to death while they are down, I’m skeptical of the claim that violence has been overstated.

          I have also seen videos of them going as a mob and marching through restaurants and other businesses and demanding that people raise their hands and recite a given phrase to show support for them, with a clear threat of violence for non-compliance. Usually if the person shows any mild resistance (by refusing to raise their hand) they gang up on them, scream to their faces, and sometimes even get physical.

          In some places they have implemented this strategy by going to people’s homes to demand support! If that doesn’t seem fascistic to you, I don’t know what could.

          I’m specially curious about what would be your examples of “areas where WS have ruled the streets”.

          I do intend to read the book you linked to, eventually. But I fear I’m at the point in which I might only get convinced that antifa is not as bad as I think it is with some hard audiovisual evidence.

        • P. October 28, 2020 at 12:29 pm #

          By the way, the comparison I actually wished to make (but probably wasn’t clear enough) was not between white supremacists and antifa, but between trump and trump’s supporters x antifa. I was addressing the white supremacy issue because they often get lumped together.

          If I think that antifa are more dangerous than white supremacists today in the year 2020, when it comes to trump supporters x antifa I think it’s not even close.

        • Rad Geek October 28, 2020 at 2:55 pm #

          I thought the whole point about “openly and wholeheartedly” was introducing a comparison with other examples of fascists that exist(ed) in the US. In comparison, I think trump is actually LESS fascistic than, for example, obama, who was much more of a warmonger than he is.

          1. Re: comparison, “without all the moderating aspects” and the context of the prior concersation with 1 does suggest a comparative claim — about Trump’s relationship to the pre-2016 American political system. But it does not plausibly suggest a comparative claim about how Trump measures on the Fash-O-Meter vis-a-vis any and all of his chosen political enemies or rhetorical stalking-horses. In particular, neither BLM street protests or vigilante antifa groups have much of anything to do with such comparisons as were being made. Maybe he stacks up well against them and maybe he stacks up poorly; maybe he is right to denounce them in any case and maybe he is wrong; but all that is in either case a red herring without any evident bearing on the initial claim that was made about Trump.

          2. Re: Obama, that is a much more meaningful comparison for assessing the claim about “moderating aspects” that Roderick made. Trump’s military policies have been awful, but I do agree with you that Obama’s (and of course Bush’s, etc.) were awfuller. There are many critics of Trump who can’t bring themselves to say so, but I’m happy to say that this is one real respect in which Trump’s administration has been less bad (so far) than the Beltway Consensus status quo ante. (That is of course my own view; I can’t speak one way or the other to Roderick’s.)

          But of course the aggressiveness of an interventionist war policy is not the only measure that matters to deciding how openly or immoderately fascistic a political establishment is. There are lots of malign political ideas and movements besides fascism that promote interventionism and crusading militarism for quite other reasons (*), and there have been fascist political establishments that never adopted aggressively interventioniat foreign policies (**). The worst things, and the most openly and immoderately fascist things, about the Trump political establishment aren’t his war policies (which are a mix of some persistent ongoing murder, episodic flashes of really idiotic and dangerous belligerence theater, and some real and welcome moves towards global retreat). It’s a whole bunch of his other policies, the policies of those around him, as well as a lot of the rest of his strongman rhetoric and actual political conduct.

          3. You write: … Since I have seen loads of videos of antifa…… I have also seen videos of them going as a mob and marching through restaurants and other businesses and demanding…

          So, again, this has little to do with the original point. (If Trump denounces bad or obnoxious people, that doesn’t make him less bad or obnoxious than they are, or less substantively fascist than he was claimed to be, etc.) But let me juat suggest that if this is your main source of information about what the core aspects of either vigilante antifa groups or BLM protests are (***) then you probably need to worry about whether you have a good systematic grip on what these things are like or whether you are caught in a Chinese Robber Problem.

          I agree that some people associated with each of these two different things do some violence and there have been cases where that got bad or just ended up being really creepy. I also agree that there are some real institutional biases and incentives within some outlets in the mainstream media that lead to a certain amount of pissing on legs and telling people that it’s raining when it comes to forthrightly discussing what’s going on. I don’t like that kind of journalism and I think it’s bad. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a curated selection of all the worst seeming folks somewhere in the vicinity of a movement doing all the worst or zaniest things provides a much better understanding. You might point out that some on the left, or some in the mainstream media, do just the same kind of nut-picking and guilt by association when it comes to the mass of Trump voters (for example) or just Republicans or conservatives in general. And if so, you’d be right to complain about that. But of course if you don’t like it when other people do that to their political-cultural Others, probably that’s a good reason not to do it to yours.

          (* Marxist-Leninism for example, Crusader Catholicism or Salafi Islamism. Of course some definitions of “fascism” are so overbroad that you could make up a story to redescribe any of these movements as kinda sorta “fascist” in a sense. But that would be dumb.)

          (** Francoist Spain, for example, and most of the far-right militarist juntas in Latin America; the Novo Estado dictatorship in Portugal is complicated because of its fanatical devotion to the Colonial War, but it did not pursue a lot of adventures outside the sphere of keeping a grip on Portugal’s own longstanding conquests.)

          (*** N.B.: those are two different things; antifa vigilantes often go to BLM protests but most people at BLM protests are not involved in antifa groups or networks.)

        • Rad Geek October 28, 2020 at 2:59 pm #

          (“Chinese Robber Problem”: there was supposed to be a link to go with that, but I messed up the formatting. Sorry about that. URL here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/09/16/cardiologists-and-chinese-robbers/ )

        • P. October 28, 2020 at 9:02 pm #

          RadGeek, what in your opinion makes Trump more of a fascist than his predecessors?

        • P. October 29, 2020 at 2:00 am #

          Regarding “chinese robber problem”: I don’t think I’m at fault in that regard, and I’ll submit that researching about actual events that transpired recently (with hard audiovisual evidence) is a more accurate way of assessing those movement’s natures than by reading whatever has been written by those movements’ members. The paper accepts anything.

          I’m willing to concede that a significant portion of both antifa and blm (specially blm, since a lot of random people joined those protests unaware of the radical marxist ideology behind the organization) are not actually violent. The bigger problem that I see is that the violent rhetoric and the actual violence doesn’t usually get called out by their peaceful companions. In fact, it seems even the peaceful ones do support to at least some degree the violent ones. The acceptability of destroying property seems almost like a consensus: “they have insurance”, they say.

          Worse, it doesn’t get called out even by the majority of left-wing people. I’m talking about mainstream people, journalists, athletes, celebrities, academics, twitter personalities. And THAT’s the bigger problem as I see it. I don’t think this goes both ways. I see this as a specific problem with those groups.

          The left seems to have a much more difficult time disassociating themselves from the more fringe violent segments of them.

      • Brandon October 27, 2020 at 1:18 pm #

        Hm, “wholeheartedly fascist”… if I were in charge, would I be able to round up my enemies and disappear them? If so, count me in.

      • Roderick November 2, 2020 at 3:16 pm #

        “I just don’t understand how the violent felons that have to be pulled out of bad neighbourhoods can be warehoused if there are no police to collect evidence against them.”

        If only there were some anarchist research on this question. 😛

  2. Neil November 18, 2020 at 7:30 pm #

    How do we stop fighting each other and learn to be allies?

    I’m tired of being accused of bigotry for having a difference of opinion and lived experience. These conversations can be had without all the polarization. People can’t open their mouths without being shouted down by fascists and communists alike. Nazis and tankies be damned.

    Individualism versus collectivism is a false dichotomy.

    You said, “everything in moderation, except politics.” All this virtue signaling does not appear to align as well with the Aristotelian mean as many SJWs would like to believe. Should it?

    Democrats pandered to and received endless support from neoconservatives and yet still have the gall to punch some oblivious, average Joe Republican and posture as if they are making the world a better place. As terrible as Trump is, Republicans voted for him as a repudiation of Bush-era neoconservatism. Just ask Jeb!

    I was tired of hearing from SJWs after they spent eight years burying their heads in the sand during the Obama years. A supposedly kinder, gentler fascism is still fascism and yet, somehow, not voting for Hillary Clinton was a vote for Literally Hitler. I don’t want it to be this way, but I was far more open to hearing from SJW types until anything that did not align completely with their dogma was deemed a pure hatred that promulgated endless triggering. Blame white males for everything, is what it sounds like. They have white privilege and control the world at its highest echelons in this pale-faced patriarchy. To me, it sounds a lot like fascists when scream about Jewish privilege. Try pointing that out to a fascist and watch him squirm. Will communists do likewise and join the fascists in their condemnation of Jewish people?

    To me, it appears that communists and fascists have no problem aligning with each other when it is convenient. Communists bash fascists for their stances on social issues and that fascists are too capitalist. Fascists only shed crocodile tears for the consequences of “degeneracy”, but are willing to ally with communists to acquire more control through the state apparatus. And yet the libertarian left and right can’t get past xaxlebax without being at each other’s throats.

    • Roderick November 20, 2020 at 7:51 pm #

      “I was tired of hearing from SJWs after they spent eight years burying their heads in the sand during the Obama years”

      I think you must have been hanging out around the wrong SJWs. The SJWs I’ve encountered were, for the most part, blisteringly critical of predator-drone-happy, mass-deportation-happy Obama.

      • Neil November 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm #

        That is a good point. It’s what I get for listening to you and jumping headlong into union leadership.


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